Nearly 200 people responded to Harrisonburg’s zoning and subdivison survey, according to results presented at a meeting to the ordinance advisory committee on Nov. 18.
The survey is part of an ongoing project to update the city’s zoning and subdivision ordinances, which have not been studied over the last 23 years.
Respondents included city residents and business owners, workers, as well as builders, contractors and landlords.
Kendig Keast Collaborative was contracted by the city to assist in the project.
Over half the respondents to the survey said they either agreed, 35.5%, or strongly agreed, 19.3%, they would be comfortable with higher density residential development in the city if developers included additional facilities, according to city documents.
Over 15% of respondents neither agreed nor disagreed about higher density development, while a combined 27.3% of respondents said they disagreed, 16.2%, or strongly disagreed, 11.2%.
However, a plurality of the respondents to the survey agreed most of the residential land in the city should be single-family, detached housing. Of those who took the survey, nearly 17% strongly agreed, while 25.5% agreed.
Many residents disagreed about most residential land being used for single-family, detached homes. Over 17% of respondents disagreed and over 8% strongly disagreed, according to city documents.
A quarter of respondents to the survey question said they neither agreed nor disagreed and several said they didn’t know.
Respondents were split on the question of what kind of housing should be allowed in existing neighborhoods of mostly or exclusively single-family, detached homes.
Making one lot into two lots for two small single-family, detached homes, referred to as infill, was the most popular choice, with 56.3% support, to increase density in neighborhoods of mostly or exclusively single-family, detached homes.
Allowing accessory dwelling units if the property meets certain requirements was supported by 43.2% of the survey takers while preserving existing neighborhoods, 38.6%, and allowing conversion to duplexes, 38.1%, were neck and neck.
Other solutions such as having no regulations to control the type of homes in neighborhoods with mostly or exclusively single-family, detached homes, 6.6% in favor, or allowing town homes, 25.4%, received lower levels of support from the survey takers.
Between Oct. 5 and Oct. 7, Kendig Keast Collaborative staff held a series of sessions with eight stakeholder groups to receive comments as well.
Groups consisted of developers, engineers, attorneys, architects, builders, real estate workers, business owners, landlords, city residents, environment advocates, nonprofit workers and teachers.
A key theme for members of the sessions said there was an “overabundance of student housing” and there needs to be incentives to create more affordable housing, when the subject reached housing, according to city documents.
On urban design, the focus group participants said the city “needs to be less car-centric” and regulations do not allow for other parts of the city to replicate downtown, according to city documents.
Development processes also were on the table for the focus groups.
Members in the groups said there were many project denials from the city, the process is too lengthy and decisions about development are too often based on a vocal minority.